Monday, May 7, 2012

Whine of the Ancient Sportswriter


Jerry Green covered sports for The Detroit News from 1963-2004 and still contributes to their website today. He has been inducted into both the Pro Football and Michigan Sports Hall of Fames. And he is one of only four sports writers to cover every Super Bowl to date. You’ve got to respect that.

But it doesn’t mean you have to enjoy his work. Because I don’t. And his latest bit of yelling at kids to get off his lawn, “Brandon Inge Deserved Better Than the Boos” is no exception.
 
This is in defense of Brandon Inge, who was betrayed by those who should have been rooting for him.

Shani? Kids? How could you!

He is an assembly line kind of guy; a guy who uses his limited skills to forge fenders or bumpers. They are blue collar, the roustabouts who produce the necessary parts that are turned into the whole product.

No, he is a baseball player. One that despite his limited skills, was paid over $34 million to play a game. He flew first class, stayed in nice hotels, and received the best health care possible. Others washed his clothes for him, his equipment was free, and he was cheered by adoring crowds for over ten years.

Do no insult the real blue collar workers of Detroit by comparing 12 hour shifts in a hot factory to a multi-millionaire that strikes out three times a game and occasionally scratches his privates.

Inge brought the leather. He did not supply much of the wood.
When you examine the various elements, it is fair to say that Inge's glove helped the Tigers into the 2006 World Series.

Brandon Inge was second among AL third basemen in 2006 with 22 errors. He led the league in miscues in 2005, 2007, and 2009.

While that’s true, Inge did lead the AL in defensive WAR in 2006. I just wanted to be a jerk there. But I would still put Magglio Ordonez, Kenny Rogers, Joel Zumaya, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Guillen, Pudge Rodriguez, Craig Monroe, Placido Polanco, and even Nate Robertson’s contributions ahead of Inge’s glove as reasons the Tigers made it to the World Series.

He did always hit. But he could play.

I assume this is a typo on Jerry’s ancient 1940’s typewriter that was supposed to read, “He didn’t always hit.” Time to upgrade to one of those dadgum computer-thingy gizmos.

My memory is laden with images of Brandon Inge risking his body diving for line drives aimed for the corner in left. Preventing doubles, runs — defeats. There are flashbacks of Inge crashing headfirst into the grandstand by third, to seize foul balls. Terminating rallies by the other guys.
Three wars back we called Sauerkraut "liberty cabbage" and we called liberty cabbage "super slaw" and back then a suitcase was known as a "Swedish lunchbox." Of course, nobody knew that but me. Anyway, long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling…

And Brandon Inge symbolized Detroit — hard scrabble, tough, a worker — whatever Detroit really is.

According to a recent Forbes article, Detroit is the second most miserable city in the country based on violent crime, unemployment rates, foreclosures, taxes, political corruption, and other factors.

And the Brandon Inge of today is possibly the most miserable player in the Major Leagues based on inability to hit, inability to realize his own limits, and declining defensive skills.

Detroit, to me, is more than a city defined by boundary lines. It is a region, an attitude, an atmosphere, a feeling, a place with heart. And it extends north and east and west and south, covering much of a paining state.
Just a city boy…born and raised in SOUTH DETROIT!

Jerry rambles for a while here. As men of his age do. We move forward…

"I'm gonna wanna beat 'em," Inge told MLB Network, after he joined the A's in Boston this past week.

"That one's for sure. I've already been messing with a couple of the guys. I've been sending (Alex) Avila texts and stuff, telling him, 'Wait until you come over to Oakland.' So it's going to be fun playing against those guys."

INGE: were guna beet u lol

AVILA: Leave me alone.

INGE: okkland is crayyyzee. luv it here tho :)

AVILA: Don’t care.

INGE: big potatoe sux rotfl

AVILA: TAKE MY # OUT OF YOUR PHONE!

In the six-minute video, Inge was grinning and joshing with MLB interviewers Matt Yallof and Sean Casey, a 2006 World Series teammate with Detroit. Brandon looked like a man who had been freed, escaped from purgatory.

Yes. The poor guy. Released by a team that gave him countless chances over twelve years. Brandon’s a victim, left cold and alone with nothing but his lovely family, secure retirement, and his millions and millions of dollars.

Detroit should be ashamed of itself.

In truth, Inge was run out of Detroit. He was chased into exile.

In truth, Inge ran HIMSELF out of Detroit. His .100 batting average and increasing amount of defensive mistakes were following a 2011 where he hit only .197 over the entire season. In recent interviews he came off as whiny when being asked to settle into a smaller role for the good of the team. He made silly comments about hitting balls right at defenders and strikeouts being a stupid statistic. The man did himself no favors his last year in Detroit.

Booed and ridiculed, sprayed with venom. By people who ignore character and effort —

Holy crap. Up until last year, Comerica Park was a sea of Inge jerseys. At Saturday’s game, I still saw at least ten of them. Inge was embraced and overrated by Detroit fans for a decade…all due to Brandon’s character and effort. It surely wasn’t his stellar on-field play.

Tiger fans have always embraced “character” guys. This is why Don Kelly has so many fans. It sure isn’t his ability to play baseball. You’ve gone wacko, Jerry.

and cherish their team more than they cherish family, job, country. The daily essentials of living.

Um…what?

Are there really Tiger fans that love a baseball team more than their children or country? I knew sports writers in Detroit loved Brandon Inge. But holy thunder…

Most people who follow baseball are fickle.

To be a fan is to believe that the ballclub belongs to you.

DFA Don Kelly!

I’ve been yelling that for years. I’m well aware the team doesn’t belong to me.

Listen to the nonsensical prattle on sports-talk radio.

Agreed. Mouth-breathing jackyls.

Check the readers who respond to articles in print with anonymous and often virulent blogs.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Wait, you don’t mean me, do you Jerry? Do other people do this to terrible Detroit articles, too? I’m not anonymous. I think it’s widely known that my real name is Scott Rogowski and I live in Toledo, OH. My email address can be found in the right column. I’ll go you one better and put up a slightly embarrassing picture taken of me and my cat.
And here’s me in kindergarten.
Adorable. And here’s me at Comerica Park. Somewhere you don’t go to anymore since you write about things you hear Tiger fans do from California.
There. No longer anonymous. We good? Wait, one more thing…

/looks up “virulent”

That’s not nice. I prefer “satirical”. Or “awesome”.

So many of the listeners — if they indeed do listen — and the readers refer to the Tigers or the Lions as "we." As if these people who hide their identities bloody themselves diving into the stands and drawing paychecks.

You seem quite angry at fans, Mr. Green. Yes, those pesky fans. Those people that pay $20 to park, at least $30 per ticket, $7 per beer, $100 per jersey, and so on.

Fans. The people that read sports writers. The people that are responsible for you having a job for 150 years in Detroit. The jerks.

Without those darned fans, whether they cheer or boo, there is no Major League Baseball, Jerry. There is no Prince Fielder in Detroit. There are no millionaire baseball players. And there sure as hell wouldn’t be a multi-millionaire named Brandon Inge out there.

I hate old people.

Jim Leyland best summarized the whirlpool situation of player vs. Tigers fans late last month in an interview with The News' Tom Gage.

"I truly believe there's too much focus on Brandon Inge's impact on this team right now," Leyland said in The News' article. "He can help us, but if we don't do well, it won't be because Brandon Inge doesn't do well …

"I'm not asking for anyone to change their opinions. I'm talking fanwise. But I think they get carried away with the impact."

Imagine that. Jim Leyland defended one of his players. That’s his job, Jerry. That’s what he excels at. If Leyland didn’t think Inge was a problem, he would still be swinging at curveballs a foot off the plate and booting ground balls at second base right now. You know that.

A couple of days later, Inge was gone — released, after 12 seasons of loyalty to the Tigers.

Loyalty, huh?

I believe the loyalty you should be talking about is that of Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski, and Jim Leyland to Brandon Inge. No one else in baseball would pay him the money the Tigers did. No team in baseball would keep giving the guy repeated chances to reinvent himself when better players joined the team. And no team in baseball, other than the Tigers, would keep trotting a guy out there whose best years were long, long behind him for as long as they did.

The Tigers did all this. And Inge did not produce. And he hasn’t produced since the first half of the 2009 season. That was nearly three years ago.

What would you have done, Jerry? As an aging writer in a world of younger, more talented ones, I see why you would side with Inge. But any sane person with a clear mind knows that Brandon’s time in Detroit was over and his release was long overdue.

Skipping ahead for brevity (too late)…

Quizzed by Sean Casey on the MLB Network, Inge said:

"I understand that this game you have to have a little common sense, that it is a business," he said. "I didn't produce very well for them the last couple of years. No hard feelings whatsoever, they gave me many, many good years of my career there, and I love them like family. … No hard feelings whatsoever."

You see? Even Brandon gets it, Jerry. Why don’t you?

And time and again these past few years, Inge spoke of his love for Detroit — the region, the people, the lunch-bucket atmosphere.

For 12 years, he wore the Olde English D over his heart with honor and dignity. Now he wears the A. He deserved better, not from the Tigers, but from those who ran him out of town.

Again, he ran himself out of town by being awful and antagonizing fans with silly statements to the media. Sadly, the News has not done so with you, sir.

And now seems to be a good time, since we’re pointing fingers, to identify who truly is at fault when it concerns the fans turning on Inge. Well, other than Brandon, himself.

It’s you, Jerry. Well, maybe not you specifically, but reporters like you. Since last season, all through Spring Training, and up until the days before his release, every day it seemed the Detroit News and Free Press featured stories on the struggles of Brandon Inge. Every day, reporters peppered Jim Leyland with questions about Inge’s bad play. Inge, Inge, INGE.

By now, you have to know your readers and how knee-jerk their responses can be. They have short memories in a lot of cases. And when they are beaten over the head every day with stories about how Brandon Inge can’t hit a baseball, eventually they’re going to wonder why he’s still out there. And with your stories about how the Tigers are going to run away with the division, of course they’re going to turn on the guy the same story writers are saying is playing horrible on a daily basis.

These are the people that think it’s funny when they see “Jhonny” on the scoreboard. These are the people that would still think Craig Monroe is on the team if they hadn’t seen him on the FSD pregame show. These are the people that do The Wave in a one run game in the ninth inning.

They are the mass audience. They are the people that boo. And they are influenced by you, the media. Your obsession with page hits and newspaper sales due to the lightning rod that is Brandon Inge caused this. He is the Tim Tebow/Jeremy Lin of the Tigers and is a creation of the local media. Don’t get mad when the villagers finally get fed up with the monster you created.

Those who say "we" when they should say "they," the great unwashed who believe they should be controlling the team.

Damn you fans! How could you?

Brandon Inge had a wonderful career in Detroit. He was adored for a decade by the city despite hitting .234 while he was here. He made millions. His jerseys sold by the truckload. But after three years of being terrible, even by his standards, fans got sick of seeing him K and pop out every at bat.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU, DETROIT? Do you want a winner, all of the sudden? Isn’t it enough to have nice, white bread, LUNCHPAIL ballplayers? Spoiled brats! Bring back Will Rhymes!

Personally, I don’t boo baseball players when I go to the game, even Don Kelly. Many like to jeer since they “paid their good money to be there, they’ll boo who they want”. Me, I’d feel silly booing another grown man. They’re trying their best. And Brandon surely was trying his best. But I’m not going to chastise another fan for booing. I’m only going to politely ask them to not do The Wave anymore.

But Inge was hurting the team by being out there. Everyone knew it and didn’t want to be the one to tell him. Brandon Inge was the last one to know that he didn’t have what it took to be a Detroit Tiger anymore.

Oh. Sorry, Jerry. Strike that. I guess you’re the last one.

18 comments:

verlander said...

The excerpts from Jerry Green's piece pissed me off so much I almost stopped reading.

Bethany Willick said...

*cheers*

(but definitely does not wave)

House by the Side of the Road said...

Excellent read. Nice job, Rogo.

Patrick Fahey said...

Brilliant, just brilliant

Julie Matteson said...

GREAT article. If it weren't for the Don Kelly digs, I would have agreed with EVERYTHING.

Ricklehman said...

I can only hope that Jerry Green reads this.  Great article.

Matt Sussman said...

I wonder if Jerry Green knows his article has Facebook comments below it.

Timothy Joseph Forbes said...

Good article sums up what I thought about the whole situation. 

Jay Hathaway said...

Dude, I thought this blog had a "No Steve Perry" rule.  

rings said...

Worth the wait. Like the cat picture too ;-)

Mark in Chicago said...

I have to say, the joke about ancient sportswriters yelling at the SABR-kids to get off their lawn just never gets old.

Well done piece.

Fielder'sChoice said...

Those dad-blasted flappers never gave Brandon the time of day! He ain't no dewdropper! Why, he's nothin but a simple brush-ape trying to have his cake and eat it, too. I think he's just the cat's particulars myself. Absolute cream of the crop.

Melissa said...

This might be your best one yet.

Robeartoe said...

I'll damn sure boo another man  but I won't wear some other guys name on my back

Gibby23 said...

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20580196/brandon-inges-ninth-inning-grand-slam-lifts-oakland
I realize you're subscribing to the Billy Beane school of statistical analysis with regard to Inge.....oh, wait.
The one topic I completely disagree with you on is Inge....can't you put up a new post?  Or has your head finally exploded because you were listening to too much Huge?  ;)

Sam Genson said...

Jerry Green hates "fans" and hates stats.  Complaining about those two things seem to have been the basis for every baseball article he has written over the past 5 years.  I am also pretty sure he thinks the world is flat.

ChaunceyD said...

Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

Tito Fuentes said...

Excellent.  My son said the same thing about people starting the wave on Sunday when it was still a one run game late.